With pandemic restrictions easing, Narragansett town officials are hopeful that tourism numbers will be on the rise this summer. Photo by Ethan Pellegrino.
With summer right around the corner, hotels are filling, rental houses are being booked, events are being planned and it looks like it’s going to be a busy season for Narragansett tourism.
Last year, with the pandemic present, tourism numbers were down in Narragansett during some, but not all, months, according to the South County Tourism Council (SCTC).
“A little bit of July was up three percent,” Louise Bishop, the president and CEO of SCTC, said. “But August was down a little bit, and September and October.”
Typically, Narragansett sees upwards of 27,000 people visit every summer, according to Narragansett Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Peg Fradette.
Because of the pandemic, those numbers dropped last year, but Fradette is optimistic that the numbers will go up again this summer.
“I would say we are going to be close to normal,” Fradette said. “It appears as if the hotels are filling, bed and breakfasts are filing and people are coming down here.”
Using a similar approach as last summer, the SCTC is focusing its marketing on those within driving distance and is not marketing to international tourists due to COVID-19.
According to Bishop, the focus is on getting people from Philadelphia and D.C., whereas normally they would market as far as Toronto and Ontario. She said they are also focusing on closer states like New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The SCTC is expecting their home rental market to be strong. This time of year is when the rental market really starts to pick up for the summer.
“Our home rental market filled right up, and we are expecting that same thing to happen this summer, so our numbers are going to be very strong,” Bishop said.
According to her, during the third week of May last year, the occupancy in rental homes went up to 94 percent, and they hope to see similar numbers to those soon.
Tourists and residents alike can look forward to many events that are either currently in the works or that have already been planned for the summer.
“The Wednesday night food trucks are around for this year, the bands on the beach are around for this year, the Friday night music at the gazebo is on and the Blessing of the Fleet is penciled in,” Fradette said.
In addition to this, she said there is also going to be a calamari festival in September and an art show in June.
Apart from official events, there are many outdoor events that organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the SCTC are recommending for visitors this summer.
“We do encourage people, especially this summer, to get outside, rent a kayak, get on some of those salt ponds,” Bishop said. “While you’re on them you can go clamming, you can go crabbing, you can go fishing.”
There are other ideas for outdoor activities and itineraries to follow on the SCTC website.
“I’m really, really hopeful that it’s going to be good for the businesses this year,” Fradette said. “They really hung in, it was a really tough year but they did a good job adapting and pivoting and being creative.”